(DW) Spain is set to hold an early general election on July 23, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Monday.
The move comes after Sanchez’s Socialist Party suffered setbacks in regional elections on Sunday.
The difficulties facing Sanchez’s government also come as Spain is set to assume the European Union’s rotating presidency on July 1.
What did Sanchez say?
Sanchez made the announcement in a televised address to the nation.
“I took the decision when looking at the results of the elections of yesterday,” the prime minister said.
In the regional elections on Sunday Sanchez’s Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and its junior coalition ally Podemos (United We Can) suffered setbacks, while the conservative People’s Party (PP) and the far-right Vox parties secured major wins.
“Although yesterday’s elections had a local and regional scope, the meaning of the vote conveys a message that goes beyond that. That is why, as both prime minister and PSOE’s secretary-general, I personally assume the results.”
Sanchez said he spoke with Spain’s King Felipe VI about the decision, and that Parliament would be dissolved later on Monday.
The conservative, opposition PP saw a major boost in regional elections on SundayImage: JAVIER SORIANO/AFP
What happened in the regional elections?
The election results in the 12 Spanish regions that went to the polls on Sunday showed a major swing to the right.
The conservative opposition PP won two regions outright in Sunday’s polls. In six other regions, PP could likely partner with Vox to form a majority.
Overall, the PP won 31.5% of the votes compared to 28.2% for the Socialists. Compared to the last elections in 2019, support for the Socialists dropped 1.2%, but the PP’s result skyrocketed by almost 9%.
Prior to the regional election setback, Sanchez said he planned on fully completing his four-year term, with the country originally set for a general election in December.
Why is the move coming now?
While announcing the snap vote came as a surprise, political analysts believe Sanchez hopes to cut short gains by conservatives.